Friday 28 January 2022

Coming Home

Daniel left home to go to university back in September 2013, I never thought for one minute that he'd never come back home to live again. He went to university in York, a city not far from home, but he lived in student accommodation. 

After leaving university in 2016, his girlfriend had secured a job in Essex and not wanting to be too far away from her, he looked for a job down south. He found a job in Woking in Surrey, not ideal as it was seventy miles away from Jasmine, but it was closer than it would have been if he'd been living back in Leeds. They lived separately for two years, seeing each other on weekends, before Daniel got a transfer with his company to their London office. This meant that they were able to rent a property together in Essex where Jasmine was working and where he was able to commute to London from.

Not long before Covid struck, Daniel had started working from home, visiting the office only occasionally. During the pandemic, Jasmine also worked from home, and both of their companies now realise that they're able to work remotely, meaning that they can easily work from any location.

Both Daniel and Jasmine's companies have now agreed that they can work from home indefinitely, meaning that they're now able to come back to live in Leeds. Whilst they were here at Christmas, they found a flat to rent, very close to where we live. When Mick took them home in the New Year he packed up the car with as much of their stuff as he could to bring back with him. Eleanor's old bedroom is packed full of their things, above is just some of them.

Mick's gone down to Essex again today to bring another car load back with him, as well as Daniel and Jasmine. They'll be saying goodbye to Essex. We're hoping that they'll be able to fit the rest of the things they want to bring back with them in the car, if not, they'll have to make another trip, but they'll leave some things behind just for convenience more than anything. There's things which just won't fit in the car and it's more cost effective to simply replace them rather than spending extra money on transporting them back to Leeds. Mick was thinking of hiring a van to move all their things but he'd rather not if he doesn't have to, it's much cheaper doing things this way.

They ordered some furniture while they were here at Christmas but their bed isn't being delivered until some time next week. They're not sure when their broadband, which they need for work, will be set up either so they'll be staying with us for a little while, hopefully moving into their new flat properly during next week.

I waved Daniel off to university over eight years ago. We haven't seen much of him and Jasmine at all over the past five years when they've been living down south and especially so during the last two years so I'm so excited to be getting them back home again where we'll be able to see them on a much more regular basis.

Monday 24 January 2022

Blankets From Stash

I've got quite a healthy yarn stash and want to get some of it used up this year as it does take up quite a bit of storage space. I thought it might be a nice idea to start with all the odd bits of leftover yarn, knitting or crocheting them up into blankets to give to charity.

To that end, I've started off with a crochet blanket. I'm using leftovers with a high wool content in fingering weight and holding two strands of different yarn together. As this is all about using up the yarn I'm not worrying about colours going together or matching, but I do like to see the marled effect which holding two strands together is creating. I also have quite a bit of Stylecraft DK which is an acrylic yarn which I'd like to do something with too, but I won't be mixing fibres in the blankets so I shall begin a separate project with that in the future.

This blanket is going to be one large granny square. This is the first bit of crafting I've done since before Christmas, I've lost my mojo for knitting, crochet, cross stitch etc. but I've been missing having something to do with my hands whilst watching TV so this fits the bill nicely. It's mindless crochet, going round and round the square. I see that Ali from the Little Drops of Wonderful podcast and Sherrie from the Ollie and Bella podcast are hosting the Cosy Winter Blanket Along at the moment so I'll be able to join in with that.

Do you like my crochet hook? Eleanor bought this for Christmas 2020 for me but this is the first time I've used it. I'm really pleased with how it feels in the hand, I find it really easy to hold and comfortable to crochet with. I love the sunflowers and little bees.

Perhaps this little project will encourage my crafting mojo to return.

Thursday 20 January 2022


Has anyone else discovered Wordle? I'm probably very late to the party, as usual, but I love word games and this is right up my street.

No one in my family particularly enjoys playing things such as Scrabble, so that's something I often play online, and Wordle is now something else I can have a go at each day.

From Wikipedia - "Every day, a five-letter word is chosen which players aim to guess within six tries. After every guess, each letter is marked as either green, yellow or grey: green indicates that letter is correct and in the correct position, yellow means it is in the answer but not in the right position, while grey indicates it is not in the answer at all. The daily word is the same for everyone."

I haven't failed at guessing the word yet, though it's been very close a couple of times. Do you enjoy word games? Have you played Wordle?

Sunday 16 January 2022

The Great Gatsby

 As I mentioned in a previous post, I'd like to read some classics this year so with that in mind, the first one I picked up was The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

" 'I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby's house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited - they went there.'

Jay Gatsby's opulent Long Island mansion throngs with the bright young things of the Roaring Twenties. But Gatsby himself, young, handsome and mysteriously rich, never appears to his guests. He stands apart from the crowd, yearning for something just out of reach - Daisy Buchanan, lost years before to another man. One fateful summer, when the pair finally reunite, their actions set in motion a series of events that will unravel their lives, bringing tragedy to all who surround them.

Widely considered F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece, The Great Gatsby is a tale of excess and obsession, and a work of classic twentieth-century American literature."

I didn't read the synopsis before I picked up this book and as I haven't watched the films either, I hadn't a clue what it was about or what to expect. I have to say that the first half of the book had me wondering why it was considered a classic, but once I had read to the end, I could see that the beginning is merely setting the scene for what is to come.

I definitely found the the story a book of two halves. The second part of the book was infinitely more interesting, or to me at least, quicker paced and held my interest far more than the beginning. As for the characters, there was only one who I was remotely interested in, that of the narrator, Nick Carraway, and I suppose this is because he's more relatable than the rest who are self-absorbed socialites. I cared very little what happened to them. I do think you have to have some affinity with the people you're reading about, so perhaps the reason I'm not raving about this book is because I don't.

Although I wouldn't give this book a five out of five rating, I can see why some people would see it as a classic. As I said previously, it definitely improves in the second half, and I'd actually like to read it again at some point in the future as I think you often get a different feel for a book when you read it for a second time. I'd also like to see one of the films now too.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Wednesday 12 January 2022

A New Year's Walk

We're already well into January now but I'm taking you back to New Year's Day and a lovely walk we took. We'd spent New Year's Eve at Eleanor and Jacob's, Daniel and Jasmine were still staying with us, but Mick and I had come home after the celebrations at about 1am, whereas Daniel and Jasmine stayed until 3am. Consequently, all the younger members of the family had a good sleep in so Mick and I decided to head out for a walk with Archie.

When I was growing up, we lived a couple of miles away from the small town where I live now. A road at one end of our street took you directly there, but if you turned the other way out of our driveway, you were in farming country. We'd often walk down the back lane, which took us on a more scenic route to where I now live, past stables, farms and fields, and walk in a circular route, coming home via the road. Apart from the road, all you could see from the back of our house was farmland. It's all changed now, there's been so much development since the seventies and eighties. If you look out over the back of our old house now you can see a motorway, office buildings and a shopping centre. I find that so sad. That back lane no longer connects our old house to the small town where I now live as it's now a no-through road, owing to the buildings which have appeared.

We've lived in our small town now for over twenty eight years and have never walked that route that I used to take in reverse. I knew we wouldn't be able to reach my old house, but I wondered what it would be like from the other end as the new development hasn't reached that far down the lane. So that's the walk we decided to take on New Year's Day.

There's still stables at this end of the lane, though the horses weren't anywhere near the fences on this particular day, so no photos of them.

Walking down the lane brought back so many memories. I remember the walks we used to take when extended family visited, and the walks we took with the dogs that we had at the time.

Someone's left some treats for the birds.

It was a gorgeous day. I was wearing my coat but I really didn't need it. Apparently, it's been the warmest New Year on record. I can't believe how mild it's been.

Looking back you can see our small town. Like the surrounding villages, it prospered and grew as a result of the coal industry, and now the population is about 15,000. The town is about seven miles from Leeds.

Look across the fields and you can see a lake. You'd be completely unaware it was there unless viewing it from this point.

What a great little hiding place in the trunk of this tree. I can just imagine Winnie the Pooh characters in the Hundred Acre Wood living somewhere like this.

It's good to see that some farms have survived the redevelopment projects, though how long they remain here is anyone's guess. It seems that they're swallowed up by housing estates, roads or office blocks almost overnight.

This is more reminiscent of the view I saw on these walks as a child. It's good to see that some land remains untouched, and long may it be so.

We returned home to a lovely New Year's Day roast dinner, and Daniel and Jasmine went back to Essex the following day, however, while they were in Leeds they managed to find a flat to rent so they'll be coming back again at the end of the month, this time to stay.

Saturday 8 January 2022

Twelve Days Of Christmas 2021

These Twelve Days of Christmas posts come round far too often for my liking, not that I don't love to receive these gifts from my lovely friend, Lisa, but because each year seems to slip by quicker than the last. This is the eighth year that Lisa and I have swapped gifts. We swap twelve separately wrapped gifts, one to be opened on each of the twelve days of Christmas. We met through our blogs and though Lisa doesn't blog now, she's on Instagram and we swap regular emails keeping up to date with each other's family life.

These are the lovely gifts which I received from Lisa this year.

Let's take a closer look.

A box of Christmas crackers. These were unwrapped on Christmas Day but I didn't use them this year so that I could photograph them with the rest of the gifts. They'll be put away and used next year though. Some Bonne Maman chocolate biscuits, I've never tried these so I'm looking forward to tucking in. Some Bourneville Old Jamaica rum and raisin dark chocolate. I remember this when it was in an orange wrapper with a ship on the front, it's years since I've had it but I know I like it. A pocket pouch shopping bag, very handy to carry around with me, I'm always scrabbling about for a bag.

Some journal stickers and memo pads. These will be very handy for my journaling this year. A pair of Christmas socks with hedgehogs under the mistletoe, so cute. A handy Kilner jar adorned with gingerbread men, this will be lovely filled with the festive treats I make next year. A can of seeds, you just water and they grow, what a fun gift.

Kate Humble - Thinking on My Feet. A book celebrating the act of walking. It's written month by month and I think it might be fun to read in this way too. Mints in a Christmas tin, which will be put to very good use once the mints have been eaten. Avon nail varnish in a very glamorous shimmery pink colour and some raspberry panna cotta handcream. It actually smells good enough to eat. Last but not least, Miss Mary Christmouse. I actually gave a little squeal when I unwrapped her, isn't she the cutest.

I couldn't resist taking an extra photo of Miss Mary Christmouse. She hasn't been packed away with the rest of the Christmas decorations, Miss Mary will be sitting in my craft room to keep me company.

Some wonderful gifts, I'm sure you'll agree. Thank you, Lisa, I'm thrilled with everything I received.

This is what I sent to Lisa.

And a closer look.

I know that Lisa likes to spend time in her garden relaxing after work, at least in the summer when the weather's nice. I thought this garden nesting box would add some interest in the spring if a blue tit family move in. The Brain Benders are wooden puzzles to get the old grey matter working. There's four puzzles so all the family can try one each. The tea infuser reminded me of one of Lisa's cats, Rocky. Isn't it cute. I don't know about you but my hands get so dry during the winter months so I thought these Cath Kidston handcreams might come in handy.

Lisa sent me a lovely cross stitched card for my birthday last year so I thought she might like to have a go at this alphabet sampler. I usually add a Christmas themed book in the parcel. This year it's by author, Cressida McLaughlin, I actually read one of her books myself in the run up to Christmas. The title, The Cornish Cream Tea Christmas, sold it to me. I know that Lisa meal plans so I thought this meal planner would come in useful, and the body butter duo should keep Lisa's skin moisturised during the harsh months of winter.

I always put a few sweet treats in the parcel. There's the Galaxy Chocolate Collection which contains a few different bars of choccie. Thorntons Milk Chocolate Caramel Crunch, and I didn't remember it at the time when I picked these up but Lisa had actually sent me a box last year so I can vouch that they're delicious. The Make Your Own Gingerbread Man is a bit of fun, it comes with a gingerbread man cookie cutter. There's also some Galaxy Hot Chocolate, which has mini marshmallows included to make a luxury hot chocolate drink, and a little ceramic owl spoon too.

It's been such a fun swap again, I love opening these gifts, one each day on the Twelve Days of Christmas, it just extends the festivities a little. Thank you, Lisa.

Tuesday 4 January 2022

Advent Calendars 2021

Back in November I told you about My Advent Calendars For 2021. I had two advent calendars this year, a Charity Collaboration which was organised by Helen of Giddy Yarns and a swap I did with Maggie from BlackCountry Wench blog. I thought I'd show you what I received in each of them.

Twenty four independent dyers collaborated to bring together the yarny advent calendar I bought this year. I received a 10g mini skein from each of the dyers, one to be opened on each day of advent, and there was a lovely assortment of colours. I've bought yarn from a number of the dyers in the past but this is a great way to try yarn from the other dyers without having to buy a full skein. Helen also included a sachet of Thornton's Luxury Hot Chocolate and a hand balm from The Lonely Knitter. Money was raised from the sale of these advent calendars which was donated equally amongst three different charities.

Maggie thoroughly spoilt me with the swap parcel I received from her. We made up a parcel of twenty four 5g mini skeins to be opened throughout advent but Maggie also included chocolates, a needle minder, a needle keep, a tape measure, a tree ornament and a tin of Vaseline Gold Dust Lip Therapy. Just look at all those gorgeous colours, and all wound on bobbins ready to use. 

At the beginning of advent, Maggie said I could open one of the gifts and it turned out to be a book, The Canal Boat Cafe Christmas by Cressida Mclaughlin, so I read this in the lead up to Christmas, it was a nice Christmassy tale.

We'd agreed to swap a skein of yarn on Christmas Day and I received this gorgeous Little Bear Yarn in the Vintage Yule colourway. Thank you Maggie, I love it. There were also so many more little parcels in the box which Maggie said I could open throughout advent if I wished but I saved them all and opened them on Christmas Day. 

I'm sure you'll agree, I opened some wonderful things in my advent calendars this year, and I received some wonderful gifts in the swap. Thank you Maggie, I love everything.

Some of my mini skeins will be added to my scrappy blanket but I'd like to have a look for some other projects to use them in too as I've still got lots of mini skeins to use from previous advent calendars.

I really enjoy opening the little yarny parcels in the countdown to Christmas, it's the third year I've had yarny advent calendars and it's now become a part of my Christmas traditions.